On Reading

"When you read a book, you don't just read, you journey. This is why at first, one is always regretful upon nearing the last page, thinking that it all ends there. But it is when we look into our minds after reading that we find the new world we discovered and with dawning realization see the truth of the matter:
...that the journey never ends."

Friday, January 31, 2014

Review: Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

I have always had reservations every time I start a book I know would be of the high fantasy genre. Maybe it's just me, but I like to devote my time and effort into being able to understand and picture the world in my head, not having myself be confused at every mention of a foreign word and unusual character name. This was primarily the main reason why I kept putting off reading Siege and Storm, I wanted to wait for the right time, when I was in the right mood, because that's what I did with Shadow and Bone. And when I manage to do this, boy what an experience reading is. This is when it gets--and I kid you not--magical.

Siege and Storm picks up where we left off with Shadow and Bone, with Mal and Alina on the run from the Darkling. However, the Darkling (because he is awesome) eventually manages to find them and leads them aboard Sturmhond's ship for a mission that none of us would have ever seen coming. New alliances are formed, alliances that are of the utmost importance especially now when everything is not as it seems. Alina drifts further away from the things she holds dear, falling deeper into the Darkling's thirst for power, and more dangerous still, even her own.


While there are a lot of things to love about this new installment to the Grisha series, I do feel like much of what made this book so enjoyable to read was Sturmhond. He's an incredibly complex character who maintains his hilarious but honorable personality throughout the story. How he manages to be perfectly sarcastic one moment, and yet there are times when we're given these rare glimpses into this young man who's only trying to do right by his country. He, along with Tolya and Tamar, were a great addition to the list of characters in these series, and they had no qualms about endearing themselves to me in just one book. 

Now, while I wasn't particularly fond of Mal in the first book, he finally grows on me in this second book, probably because I was able to witness more of him in Siege and Storm. I'll admit there were moments when I wouldn't have minded strangling him and personally dragging him over to Alina so they could talk it out, but even then, I understood him. Alina was purposely keeping him out, and of course given their childhood and past, where they were practically inseparable, that must have been tough.

It's no secret that I've loved the Darkling from the start, not only because he's undeniably attractive and mysterious (although that certainly doesn't hurt), but because I'm actually rooting for him. Call me naïve, but I want to believe there's still hope for him. Someone needs to go and pull him out from that pit of destruction he's so far into.

Alina is as real and fearless as ever, and I'm actually confused as to whether I should be immensely proud of her as she asserts what she knows she wants, or afraid because that's the exact thing that's starting to change her. Honestly, I'm leaning towards the first option. 

Make no mistake, just because I talk relentlessly about the characters doesn't mean I had no appreciation of the plot. I did. I do. Like I said before, there were road bumps I honestly didn't see coming until I was already stumbling over them, and to me, that's endlessly amazing. The volcras' apparent humanity, the nichevo'ya and their creepiness, the weird priest, Morozova's craziness, those reflective dishes, and Genya (dear, dear Genya), just wow. Also, it's almost disconcerting how Leigh Bardugo manages to, in this book, make me want three ships to sail. Three, you hear me? That right there just sets you up for inevitable heartbreak. And here I thought I was used to it. But see that's what's so great about being a reader. You get your heart broken, quite willingly, even, and watch it, sometimes reluctantly, be put back together again.

I was wishing for more Darkling-Alina moments, just because I find the dynamics of their relationship riveting. But that's just me. They just belong together in my head. Sorry not sorry.

Siege and Storm proves how truly dangerous and addictive power can be, which is especially important in our time. As my Psych professor says, we're the generation that's undergoing the current and radical changes in society today, that we're on the verge of going up or downhill, and it's up to us to decide precisely what kind of world we'd like to see in the future. Siege and Storm shows not only that temptation exists, but also the reality that at times, we fall prey to them. Acknowledgment of this is an acknowledgment of humanity, of our sometimes flawed personalities, but also of the greatness within all of us that desires to ameliorate, much like Alina. Wake me up when Ruin and Rising is in my hands. That is all.

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